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That Makes No Sense!

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Posted on Jul 20, 2012
david drexler (CC BY 2.0)

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Yes, we’re in a world filled with dangers.  (Paranoia invariably has some basis, however twisted, in reality.)  And significant among them is undoubtedly the danger the national security state represents to our lives, which are increasingly designed to be open books to its functionaries.  Whether you like it or not, want it or not, care or not, you are ever more likely to be on file somewhere; you are ever more liable to be polygraphed until you “confess”; your cell phone, email, and texts are no longer your property; and one of the 30,000 employees of the Complex assigned to monitor American phone conversations and other communications may be checking you out.  So it goes in twenty-first-century America.

Maybe if you haven’t said it yet, you’re finally feeling the urge.  Go on then, give it a try.

That makes no sense!

There’s just one catch.  The direction your government has taken—call it “transparency” or anything else you want—may boggle the mind.  It may seem as idiotically wrong-headed as having 17 significant agencies and outfits in a single government on a budget of $80 billion-plus a year call the product of their work “intelligence.” It may not make sense to you, but it does make sense to the National Security Complex.  For its “community,” the coupling of security with redundancy—with too much, too many, and always more—means you’re speaking the language of the gods, you’re hearing the music of the angels.

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So much of what the Complex does may seem like overkill and its operations may often look laughable and inane.  Unfortunately, the joke’s on you.  In our country, the bureaucrats of the Complex increasingly have the power to make just about any absurdity they want the way of our world not just in practice, but often in court, too.  And if you really think that makes no sense, then maybe you better put some thought into what’s to be done about it.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Engelhardt discusses drone warfare and the Obama administration, click here or download it to your iPod here.

[A note of thanks: to my friend John Cobb for reminding me of Hofstadter’s essay and to Nick Turse from whose book title, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, I’ve long lifted the idea of the National Security Complex.] 

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt


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